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Joe Henderson Columns

Henderson: Latest mass shooting shows nothing has changed

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Published:   |   Updated: September 17, 2013 at 07:38 AM

We had another mass shooting Monday.

Are you shocked?

Are you even surprised?

I mean, any sane person is properly horrified at the killings at the Washington Navy Yard, but there have been so many events like this that I suspect many are almost resigned to these things. This is the world we have, now.

“I’m afraid the American public is numb to gun violence in this country,” U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, said. “We’re desensitized to it because of the number of mass shootings.

“Unfortunately, I don’t have great hope for policy-makers to make reasonable restrictions on ammunition and guns. Practical debate is difficult to achieve. And when I talk with people on this issue, they feel strongly it’s their personal right to own guns.”

Well, it is.

But as Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said, “Look, I’m a gun owner. I have been around guns my whole life. I support the Second Amendment. But there are people out there who say more guns are better, and less regulation is better. These groups always fear the slippery slope if you put any restrictions on guns.

“Some of these people are also the ones who say black helicopters are coming for their guns, and they’re burying food in the ground.”

I don’t think it’s fair to say gun laws, or the lack of them, created these massacres. But I do think it’s completely fair to say we will see more scenes like the one in Washington because the lunatic fringe keeps showing up, seeking revenge on society for something or other. It seems so random.

We have seen shooters run amok at an Army base in Texas, at a movie theater in Colorado, at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin and at an elementary school in Connecticut.

The Associated Press compiled a list of these rampages in the aftermath of Monday’s events, which was the 13th since 2011. The list ran all the way back to the Columbine killings in 1999.

Frankly, I had forgotten about most of them – like the guy who killed seven people and wounded seven others at a Christian rock concert and prayer rally in 1999.

Or the teenager who killed 11 people, including nine at Red Lake High in Minnesota.

Or the person who killed 13 people and wounded four at an immigration center in upstate New York in 2009.

And we should never forget that 56 people were shot and 32 died at Virginia Tech in 2007, but I’ll bet some people have.

But what is anyone to do?

Guns aren’t going away. Bad people aren’t going away.

If we passed laws and tried to collect all the guns ... what was it they used to say? Yeah, only criminals will have guns.

So, we are left with statements like this from Republican U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross, who represents parts of Hillsborough County.

“What happened today in D.C.’s Navy Yard is a national tragedy. I am so grateful for our first responders who risked their lives to save others,” he said. “Cindy and I extend our deepest thoughts and prayers to all families who are affected by this senseless act of violence.”

We have read variations of the statement dozens of times from dozens of leaders, who just don’t know what else to say.

There are enough seething, deranged and dangerous people out there to create the kind of carnage we saw Monday, and they just keep coming.

Politicians aren’t going to change the laws. If the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., didn’t change the national attitude on guns, nothing will. A lot of good people truly believe a gun is the only way they can stop a bad guy.

I hope they’re wrong, but days like Monday make me think they could be right.

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